So you badly need a couple getaway from both of your hectic work schedules. But you can’t afford a long vacation because of miserable leave entitlement and budget constraint. Usual short trip destinations in Southeast Asia like Penang, Bali and Bangkok seem boring nowadays. Then how?
How about going somewhere further to Busan – the second largest city in Korea?
The trip to Busan isn’t as costly as you think. By taking just 2 days’ leave on Friday and Monday, you can enjoy the best of Busan as a couple at $1,600 or less. You can even do it all within 72 hours!
1. Affordable flights to Busan thanks to Air Asia
Air travel is so much cheaper and convenient now. A return air ticket to Busan via Korean Air will make you and your BF about $2,200 poorer. On the other hand, spend about half that amount by flying AirAsia.
To be exact, you only need to pay $574 nett per pax for a return trip without check-in baggage!
2. Economical Airbnb accommodation
Hostels, budget hotels? These are so passe.
Welcome to the world of Airbnb, where you can find cosy rooms or apartments in convenient locations. All these at a fraction of the price of hotels! To make things easier for you, we’ve done the research on the best locations for a great couple stay in Busan.
Seomyeon in Busan is like Myeongdong in Seoul, the Mecca for all things trendy. Shop till you drop in this hip district for great Korean fashion.
Furthermore, Seomyeon is also the commercial and transportation hub in the city. Staying in a private apartment near the station = great accessibility to major sights. From just $229 for 3 nights, you get to enjoy the convenience of staying in Nami’s sleek studio apartment!
Jungang Station is located near to the largest port in Korea. In addition to stunning views of the Busan port, be close to the famous Jagalchi Market, Gukje Market and other Nampo-dong attractions by staying in this area.
Boasting a superb location, the cosy W House2 is a steal you don’t want to miss from $291 for 3 nights!
Busan is famous for its beautiful beaches in Korea. In fact, the popular Busan Fireworks Festival is held every October along Gwangalli Beach, a 10-minute walk from Gwangan Station.
Stay at Yurim’s cool sea-view apartment located right next to Gwangan station from a reasonable $317 for 3 nights. Besides the convenient access to colourful fireworks, why not take a romantic stroll with your partner on the white sandy beach? Furthermore, explore the city at ease with the nearby subway and buses.
3. Highlights of Busan in 72 hours
Best part of this trip? All the lovely Busan spots don’t require an admission fee, woah!
Day 1: Central district (Jung-gu)’s Jagalchi Market, Gukje Market, Nampo-dong, BIFF Square
Take it easy on your first day, since you’ve just landed in the morning after an overnight flight. Thus, all the activities will be around the 2 subway stations on Busan Subway orange line 1: Jagalchi and Nampo stations.
You can just alight at one station and move around on foot the whole day as these attractions are all within close proximity to one another.
You deserve a hearty breakfast to warm your souls and stomachs. After dumping your baggage at the apartment, head to the iconic Jagalchi Market.
A trip to Busan isn’t complete if you don’t visit the largest seafood market in Korea, the best place to represent the port city.
Tuck into the freshest raw fish here at unbelievable prices. If raw stuff isn’t your thing, have them cooked in one of the many restaurants lined on the shore side road. Pay only 20,000 KRW or less (S$24.20) for a sumptuous seafood meal for 2.
Directions: Walk about 5 minutes from Jagalchi Station exit 10.
Proceed to Gukje Market just across the street from Jagalchi Market for another round of feasting and shopping.
As one of the largest traditional markets in Korea, it’s likely you will lose your way here. Nonetheless, getting lost is part of the fun for a great trip!
Do follow the locals and sit on the stools by the alley to try some yummy street food, just like what you see above!
Directions: Jagalchi Station exit 7. Go 30m, turn left, and walk straight for 5 minutes to reach the market.
Korean movie fans must visit the famous BIFF Square where the annual Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) is held.
Spot hand paintings of famous movie celebrities along the street. Sink your teeth into the addictive Korean street snacks.
A must-try includes the nutritious Busan specialty – Ssiat Hotteok, a sweet pancake filled with a variety of healthy seeds for the extra crunch.
Also, shop to your heart’s content along the cultural and fashion streets of Nampo-dong, across from the BIFF Square. This is where you will find a wide range of shops selling everything from bargains to luxury items.
Directions: Nampo Station exit 1 or 3.
Day 2: Beaches to the east of Busan – Haeundae and Gwangalli
Haeundae Beach is probably the most famous beach in the country. During the peak season from June to August, throngs of domestic tourists flock to the white sandy beach to chill from the summer heat. Have fun playing traditional games such as Korean wrestling, seesaw jumping and tug-of-war at the Folk Square.
Directions: Haeundae Station (Busan Subway green line 2), Exit 5. Walk straight for about 500m.
After some beach fun, proceed to a stunning tour of Haedong Yonggungsa. Located on the coast of northeast Busan, this is a rare find of a temple by the sea. Climb 108 steps from the entrance to the rocky landscape, leading you to the main sanctuary where the ancient temple sits. Soak in the gorgeous coastal views and snap away.
If you can, climb all the way up the steep flight of stairs to pray at the temple. Reward yourself with a picturesque bird’s eye view overlooking Haedong Yonggungsa.
Directions: Take bus 181 from Haeundae Station (Busan Subway green line 2) Exit 7. Alight at the bus stop outside the temple. Follow the sign to the temple by walking about 10 minute.
Of course we shouldn’t miss out Gwangalli Beach, well known for the spectacular lights show of the Gwangan Bridge at night. As mentioned earlier, you should time your trip to coincide with the Busan Fireworks Festival if you plan to visit in October.
This is a wonderful “paktor” (dating) spot where you can enjoy the fine white sand and splendid scenery! Relive your childhood and have fun playing fireworks on the beach. After all the romantic moments, cure your hunger pangs in the many nice restaurants and cafes around the area.
Directions: Gwangan Station (Busan Subway green line 2) exit 5. Follow the signs on the pavement and walk about 10 minutes to the beach.
Day 3: Gamcheon Cultural Village and Taejongdae Cliff Park in the south
Start your day with a visit to the quaint Gamcheon Cultural Village in the southwestern part of the city. Because the colorful houses are constructed in a staircase fashion on the foothills in this coastal village, it is affectionately nicknamed as Korea’s Machu Picchu and Korea’s Santorini.
Allow yourself at least 2 hours to explore this artistic village. Take pretty couple shots in the village filled with vividly coloured murals & sculptures created by its residents.
Directions: Turn left from Toseong Station (Busan Subway orange line 1) exit 6 and go straight ahead till you reach the bus stop in front of Busan National University Hospital. Take the mini bus Saha 1-1, Seogu 2 or Seogu 2-2 to Gamcheon Elementary School Bus Stop (about 10 minute ride).
In the afternoon, visit the magnificent Taejongdae Cliff Park to the south of Busan’s coast. This natural site may be a bit out of the way but trust me, it’s definitely a must-do!
Due to time constraint, take the Danubi train and alight at Yeongdo Lighthouse for breathtaking view at the cliff.
You can also savour fresh sashimi caught directly from the sea. For Instagram-worthy shots, sit on the edge of the cliff and get your partner to snap lovely photos of you here.
Or better still, bring a selfie-stick along and pose for the most enviable couple shot in a perfect natural setting!
Directions: From Nampo Station (Busan Subway orange line 1) exit 6, walk straight for 30 seconds to the bus stops opposite Lotte Department Store. Take bus 8, 30, 88 or 88-A from the second nearest bus stop here and alight at Taejongdae Station (30 to 40 minute ride).
Day 4: F & E till your flight home departs at 10.35 am
Technically speaking, you don’t have much time today since you need to be at the airport around 9 am. The traditional markets generally open from 8 am and shops even later. So have a hearty last breakfast at a restaurant you fancy before saying goodbye to wonderful Busan.
Summary of your expected expenditure
Generally, Busan is not an expensive city, so you will be able to enjoy the scenery and delicious food it has to offer with $1,600 for 2 comfortably. Here’s a table to summarize the estimated expenditure for your couple getaway:
Generally, Busan is not an expensive city. It is possible to enjoy an awesome couple getaway in a destination that you never thought was possible. Without spending too much money and time, you will be able to enjoy the scenery and delicious food at only $1,600 for 2 comfortably.
With such a romantic trip, it’s inevitable that sparks will fly and your relationship will only strengthen. Just a PSA here: don’t forget to bring along and use contraception such as Durex.
Hurry and plan your next short getaway to Busan now before the airfare rises!
Also, read 5 Tips For A Cheaper Staycation In Sentosa